Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Lisa A. Flores

Second Advisor

David Boromisza-Habashi

Third Advisor

John P. Jackson

Fourth Advisor

Peter D. Simonson

Fifth Advisor

Karen Tracy


This dissertation examines the dialectical tensions embedded in particular cultural theories and practices, as a way to learn more about the contradictions inherent in societal relations as a whole. More specifically, I focus on the opposing impulses that inform and (re)emerge in discursive practices related to particular notions of immigration, multiculturalism, and equality, both in the European Union (EU) and in the specific case of Spain. Throughout this study, and as the different analyses take shape, I will explore the possibilities of locating these dynamics within a dialectical cultural frame that can better account for the symbolic and material bases of social (re)production, especially in relation to processes of inclusion and exclusion.

For this purpose, public and semi-private discourses and practices that may contribute to legitimizing and/or challenging a potentially exclusionary understanding of belonging become a particularly relevant area of research. Thus, I propose to dig deeper into the different dynamics of exclusion and inclusion taking place nowadays in the EU, by carefully analyzing discourses at the level of legislation, media representations, and citizens’ activism, together with the actions that they may legitimize. My study will try to discern particular understandings of contemporary societies across these different spheres, the shapes that they take, and the relationships, in the form of continuities and/or contradictions that can be established across them.